A couple of weeks ago, my son got a canoe for his 15th birthday. Our neighborhood backs up to Lake Allatoona in an area that does not get a lot of boat traffic since it is relatively shallow and we thought this would give him and the family lots of good weather fun.
We purchased the canoe from Dick's Sporting Goods and got a fair price. It is a Mad River Passage 16 Canoe. Now this is where there is a little confusion. It seems that this canoe may be made special for some retailers, because this canoe can not be found at the Mad River web site. What you can find is the Adventure 16. Also, Dick's Sporting Goods had a canoe on the floor that was called the Adventure 16, but didn't look like the one at the Mad River Site. Now for even more confusion, the Dick's site says this Passage 16 is only 32.75" wide and a couple of weeks ago they were calling it a kayak. Just to set the record straight. The canoe being reviewed is a Mad River Passage 16 with the following specifications from the manufacturer.
These are the specifications from Dick's website and I have verified and corrected in green and what I believe is wrong in red.
Mad River® Passage 16 CanoeModel Number: 96717071
Polyethylene construction is durable and requires little maintenance
Molded-in cup holders (6)
Weight: 81 lbs (soon to be verified)
Weight Capacity: 925 lbs (taking their word on it, this is also close to the Adventure 16 rating)
The next couple of photos give you the overall shots of the canoe.
Just to keep everyone honest, I went ahead and measured the length and width. I came up with 15' 11.5" long and 34.75" wide. See the photos below. The 1/2" difference in length doesn't really matter, but the 2.25" difference in width is important. If you are looking for a true 37" width, this canoe does not measure up. I don't know how Mad River officially measures the width of a canoe, but the widest point is not 37".
The canoe has two main seats and a third seat in the middle. Each seat has a double cup holder in front. This is a total of 6 possible drinks that can be accommodated in a three person (max) canoe. Either this was done to keep the mold symmetric during fabrication or was done to target towards a beer drinking group of owners.
Each front and rear seat has a backrest that can be adjusted to support your back at different angles by the straps on each side of the seat. I actually found this very comfortable. Notice that beside the front seat there are some shallow indents to prevent items from rolling off and falling in the bottom of the canoe.
The back rests can be folded down so that they will not get damaged during storage and transportation. Also there is a bungee strap on the back of the back rest that can be used to hold the back rest in the up position.
Foam is under the front and rear seats to keep the canoe at the top of the water in case you tip. When it gets warmer, we will see how high it sits when full of water and I will update the review then.
There are generous areas in both the front and back were you can store gear. The photo below is in the front of the boat.
The area behind the back seat is shown below.
Carry handles are located on both the front and rear of the boat. At the rear, there is a drain plug so you can drain the water that may get trapped in the end of the boat after washing. Since there is a lip around the inside of the canoe, flipping it will not get all the water out. The photo below is on the rear right side of the canoe. The indented area is where the serial number is engraved. Also notice that the color of this canoe is camo. I'm not sure why they call it that other than areas like what you see below where the dark shows through the speckled greenish/blueish color.
The shot below is of the waterfalls in our neighborhood and that's my wife and youngest daughter looking so cool. This was actually our second trip on the canoe. I took the camera on my first trip, but I forgot (what a dufus) to put the memory card back inside the camera before we headed out, so I don't have any photos of my son on it's maiden voyage.
On the first trip, my son and I did a 4 mile trip to the waterfalls and up the river. Since the canoe was his birthday present, I gave him the honors of the rear seat for the first half of the trip. It has been a couple of years since we were canoeing, and I must be honest, it took a while before we (I) was comfortable that we were not going to tip the canoe. I read several comments at various websites about the Adventure 16 and some were very critical on this tipping issue. After a 4 mile trip on still water with two people in the boat (me 225 lbs, him 155 lbs), we were both very comfortable and the tippy sensation was gone.
The next trip was with my wife, daughter and myself. In my opinion, we really had the canoe loaded, although this was well below the rated capacity (925 lbs) of the canoe. Also this time it had been even longer since my wife and daughter had been in a canoe, and that whole tippy felling returned to me. I'm not sure what was giving the tippy feeling. Actually, we never even came close to tipping. I think that feeling comes more from confidence (or the lack there of) in your canoe partners. After a short 1.5 mile trip to the waterfalls, we (I) were already feeling much better on the stability of the canoe and I was gaining confidence in nearly everyone in the boat.
Bottom Line: So far we are happy with the canoe. The front and rear seats are comfortable and the back rest is a very nice feature. It is a canoe and that tippy feeling will exist based on the experience level of those in the canoe. I don't think that it is any worse than other canoes of this type. If you are really looking for maximum stability, you need to pay attention to the width of the canoe when purchasing and verify (measure) yourself that you are purchasing the maximum width possible. If you are wanting stability and not speed, buy a Jon boat.
4/3/10 Update: After three trips, stability is not an issue and we are pleased with the canoe.
5/3/10 Update: I spoke with a representative for Mad River and he said the “Passage 16” is a special version of a Mad River Canoe “Adventure 16” created exclusively for Dick’s Sporting Goods and it should not be confused with the current “Adventure 16” square back, offered by specialty dealers.